Florida protects the right of heirs to contest a will
Florida is a popular destination for retirement. As a result, Florida has more in-depth and complex probate and estate laws than some other states. For example, it has become popular in recent years for those who are creating an estate plan and last will to include a clause that specifically states that anyone who contests the will shall lose their part.
However, there is a Florida statue on record that specifically invalidates such a clause from be enforceable in the state of Florida. Wills cannot punish heirs for contesting a will, even if the last will has a clause disinheriting or otherwise punishing them.
Many people choose to include such language in their last wills, even knowing it is unenforceable. While the courts may not legally enforce such a clause, reading it or hearing about it as part of settling an estate may be enough to deter many people from trying to contest the last will and estate.
Given the number of retirees in the state of Florida, it is beneficial that state law protects heirs and family members by allowing them to contest a will. This can reduce cases of abuse and fraud perpetrated against the retired population in the state of Florida.
There are many sound reasons to contest a will
Have you heard of financial abuse? It’s a practice where employees and caretakers at a retirement facility or assisted living facility ply their charges with sad stories about their lives and financial states. In some cases, these vulnerable older people will give the financial abusers cash or checks outright. Other times, the older people may change their last will and estate plan to include their caretakers, believing that they are doing the right thing, when, in fact, they are being victimized. There is also the issue of late-in-life marriages and potential manipulation to create familial estrangement.
In order to obtain as much of the estate as possible, the new spouse alienates their elderly spouse from loved ones, creating the illusion that he or she is the only one providing care during those last years. This can lead to entire families losing their inheritance in favor of a marriage that only lasted a year or two.
These issues are common enough that it makes great legal sense to protect families and heirs by allowing wills to be contested. Contesting a will, particularly if it was created under dubious circumstances, protects families and the lasting legacy of those who leave behind estates.
An attorney is critical to contesting a will
If you believe there is an issue such as financial abuse affecting the last will and estate of a recently deceased loved one, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can determine if challenging the last will in probate court is a good idea, given the specifics of your circumstance and the language of the last will.